Purcell: Hear my prayer, O Lord (ed. Shaw)
Mixed Voices (SATB+)
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This is easily one of Purcell's finest and most passionate anthems, with no respite from the carefully crafted dissonances from start to finish. This setting of the opening to Psalm 102 was composed in the early 1680s. Purcell, who was in his early twenties, had succeeded John Blow as organist of Westminster Abbey around the beginning of the decade and his star was in the ascendant as a court composer. In this piece he pulls off a remarkable compositional coup: a single, gradual climax, lasting over two minutes and culminating on the final repetition of the word 'come', is achieved through a sublime, freely developing eight-part weave of the opening material. The harmonies that result from the chromatic inflections on the word 'crying' all serve the mounting tension in this extraordinary miniature. Study of the autograph manuscript suggest that this anthem was intended to be the opening part of a larger work which was never completed.
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